With ATV injury accidents already a problem this year in Seneca County, Sheriff’s Deputy Denny Wilkinson said many drivers are misusing the all-terrain vehicles by riding them on highways, on other people’s property or by riding them without a license.
“Over the past weekend, we’ve had at least two injury accidents,” Wilkinson said, “all due to reckless operation.”
Wilkinson said he has seen children as young as 10 years old operating ATVs, and in many cases with several passengers, creating an even larger danger.
“You’re supposed to have a driver’s license to operate them,” he said.
Made specifically for the experienced driver and for off-road use, Wilkinson said ATVs and the operation of them on highways is a problem the Sheriff’s Office continues to confront.
“You’re going to have to have a field to ride them in,” Wilkinson said. “The biggest thing is they’re not permitted on the highway or on other people’s land.”
Wilkinson said ATVs lack the proper equipment to handle roadways, and many drivers ignore the “Not for Road Use” sticker commonly seen on newer ATVs.
He said several drivers continue to ride up and down roadways, frequently without a helmet.
Some ATVs can reach speeds of 60 mph, Wilkinson said, and while drivers can safely navigate the vehicles on terrain such as farm land, highways and country roads can pose several problems for the ATV driver.
“All they have to do is hit something and they’re gone,” Wilkinson said. “They’re dangerous; you can flip them.”
Misuse of ATVs can lead to a trip to the hospital, but many people don’t know it also can land you a few days in jail.
A few arrests already have been made this year, Wilkinson said, and those arrested for operating ATVs on roadways or property other than their own are subject to three days in jail.
Tiffin Municipal Court Judge Mark Repp said cases of ATV misuse are occurring more frequently and many offenders can face a maximum fine of $500 along with the three-day jail sentence.
“We’ve had steadily increasing numbers of them. It’s a real problem,” Repp said.
The top-heavy and unstable vehicles are not made for road use, Repp said, and a couple of years ago, a fatality was reported as a result of an ATV crash.
“People think if they put a slow moving vehicle sign on it, it’s okay, but it’s not,” Repp said of those driving ATVs on roadways. “That’s not what they’re intended for.”
Riding ATVs on property other than your own also can land you in trouble, Repp said, and thousands of dollars of crop damage is commonly reported from ATVs.
“We’re not dead set against them; you just need to use common sense,” Wilkinson said.
Fact BoxWhat’s not allowed
According to the Ohio BMV, ATVs are prohibited under the following conditions:
* On any limited access highway or freeway.
* On any private property without special permission of owner, or in any nursery or planting area.
* On any state-controlled land or waters except those which have been posted as permitting ATVs.
* On tracks or rights-of-way of any operating railroad.
* When carrying a loaded or uncased firearm, bow or other hunting implements.
* To chase, pursue, capture or kill any animal or wildlife.
* From sunset to sunrise, unless displaying a headlight and tail light as required under equipment regulations.